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Embracing the modern marketing era

As the baby boomer generation, which was responsible for the setting up of many organisations today retires, the marketing strategies they brought to businesses are also starting to disappear. However, it’s happening at the right time as new and potential consumers want to approach the sales process the way they’ve become accustomed to in the modern digital era.

Customers today have vast digital content and online information at their fingertips that they can self-navigate in a form that’s convenient to them – whether through mobile and social media or with information-rich websites. They already know exactly what they need and when to take action to get what they want. Against this backdrop, customers are entering into more “invasive” sales conversations with organisations at a much later stage than they have in the past. This is while being in more control of the pace and content of the organisations’ sales cycles.

This trend overturns the traditional sales and marketing processes, and puts marketers previously unused to these new means of delivery into catch-up mode. They are trying to learn new ways to deliver their message while maintaining a clear line of sight to their customers.

To better engage with customers, organisations must learn to use their websites more effectively and find out how to take advantage of the “digital body language” of potential customers – that is the information amassed as they progress through the phases of the buying process, seeking, receiving, using and responding to information – so marketers know when and how to approach them without scaring them off. “Modern marketing” can help marketers keep up with these emerging needs.

Applying the five tenets of modern marketing

In a survey conducted by BtoB Research Services and Crain Communications, the definition of “modern marketing” was revealed as “… the forces shaping a new set of capabilities that marketers must use to succeed in today’s new digital setting”.

The findings identified the five core tenets of modern marketing: targeting, engagement, analytics, conversion and marketing technology. With the understanding based on digital body language, engagements based on each buyer’s own timing and reality, converting only when buyers are ready to engage sales, and learning in context of real-time metrics, today’s marketers can leverage the new “modern marketing” approach to drive substantial top and bottom-line improvements for their businesses.

1. Targeting

Targeting means developing a clear picture of your potential customers by knowing who are involved in the buying process, their exact roles and responsibilities. It involves creating proper strategies for data collection and management, and using dynamic profiling to properly align your targets with changing market and business needs. This can all help gather the information that goes far beyond traditional demographics.

2. Engagement

Modern customers want more value from their interactions, including information delivery that can help fuel the decision-making process. Engagement is about reaching the right people at the right time, but today it’s more than that. It’s about reaching them in the right way and delivering the proper content via the right medium, and using an appropriate mix of activities, including public relations, websites, social media, blogging, events and demand generation.

3. Conversion

In the modern era, purchasing decisions are often made before a sales person even gets involved. Converting a potential customer into an actual customer, or a potential broker-dealer into a new recruit, depends on the marketing efforts in place, on improving the customer experience as they learn about your organisation and offerings, and to enhance the flow of information between sales and marketing. This means devising quality inquiry-to-customer strategies and collaborating with sales to deliver high-quality leads.

4. Analytics

Data analytics and reporting have as much a place in “modern marketing” as events and campaigns. In fact, measuring the results of the marketing process is one of the most important differentiators in “modern marketing”. Understand your returns on the marketing investment and measure them as the marketing’s contribution to revenue as a whole to help solidify the role of marketing in the big commercial picture; so that you know which actions are successful and which are not.

5. Marketing technology

The final piece of the puzzle for “modern marketing” is the right marketing technology. Solutions that integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) platforms to provide multiple marketing functions, include workflow and marketing automation, social monitoring and business intelligence (BI). The right marketing automation technology can make it easier to navigate through each step of the conversion cycle, keep up with compliance needs, and integrate the other four tenets of “modern marketing” completely.

The five tenets of “modern marketing” were created based on today’s marketing environment where customers are self-educated with a clearer idea of what they want out of the sales and marketing process. Marketers who are stuck doing things the way they’ve always done them can find their old campaigns and processes don’t work the same as they always have, and that new tools and more efficient strategies are needed instead.

From the five tenets, modern marketing’s best practices can be established and thus set the tone for new marketing efforts while maximising the website, social media and marketing technology. Marketers can move away from manual processes to improve the marketing department’s output, and measure the output to ensure future success, all with the ultimate aim of enhancing the relationships with potential customers, to increase revenue growth while shortening the sales cycle, and to report stronger marketing return-on-investment to management.

The writer is Nik Feizal Hanafi, country manager, Applications, Oracle Malaysia.

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